German welfare reform talks collapse

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German welfare reform talks collapse

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Marathon talks between Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government and Germany’s opposition have failed to reach a compromise deal on welfare reforms.

After losing control of parliament’s upper house, the ruling centre-right needs the backing of its political rivals, with a vote looming on Friday.

With just two days to go, it is stalemate, with each side blaming the other.

Labour Minister Ursula von der Leyen says she doubts the opposition really wanted an agreement.

She was speaking in response to their claims that Merkel told her team to “let the negotiations fail.”

In benefits aimed at some of Germany’s most needy, the government is proposing monthly payments of 364 euros.

But that is only a five euros a month rise – not enough, says the opposition, for the 4.7 million jobless and under-employed people concerned.

The government is acting after a constitutional court ruling forced it to change the way minimum welfare payments are calculated.